Minnie Driver Owes Me $20
Wendover, Nevada is a gambling town. Wendover is a border town to Utah. It's a truck stop town. If you have 16 wheels and need 20 acres to turn your rig around, Wendover is the place. To call Wendover the armpit of Nevada would be cliche, and an insult to armpits everywhere. Here's a secret, and Secret is for Women, Minnie Driver vacations in Wendover.I was walking out of the Peppermill Casino, counting the change that was left from the dollars of last week's paycheck, and my friend says, "I think I saw that girl in there that played in that movie about that smart janitor.""Good Will Hunting?" I say. "You mean Minnie Driver." And, since we were gambling, I bet he was wrong.I lost that bet. And now, Minnie owes me $20.Standing at the cashier's cage, looking smart, clinging, hugging, kissing and displaying an undo amount of affection to some guy (not Matt Damon) was Minnie Driver.I don't read People magazine. I wouldn't know a Baldwin Boy from a hairy ape. Maybe there isn't a difference. Maybe that's why there are so many Baldwin Boys? About the only thing I know about Hollywood romance is that, for a while, Matt Damon sat in Minnie's driver seat. And I knew that when you're gambling, you need an edge. And Minnie was mine.There is an old gambling adage that says, "Unlucky with cards. Lucky in love." I figured the converse must be true as well, "Unlucky with love. Lucky with cards." My information was a little stale, but I knew Minnie hadn't been playing with a full deck of love cards.When Minnie and her new mate sat down at a blackjack table, I remembered what she looked like the night of the 1998 Academy Awards.Minne sat behind Matt Damon. She was his ex-lover. His date to the Oscar's was his own mother. When Matt and Ben Affleck won the Oscar for best original screenplay, the camera focused on Matt and then to Minnie. Her hands clapped happiness, but her eyes betrayed her heart. She still wanted that genius janitor to mop her tears and clean her clock.During Matt's acceptance speech, the camera kept flashing to Minnie. I thought, "Damn media. Can't you let her private life remain just that: PRIVATE." I hate tabloid journalism.CUT: BACK TO WENDOVERSETTING: Peppermill Casino. Minnie is playing a new role with a guy whose name I never learned. Minnie sits to my right. Her date to her right. And playing the blackjack position of third base, a trucker that is hauling in loads of cash.QUIET ON THE SET. ACTION.With Minnie's heart having a Damon sized hole, I don't need to count cards. I just count on Minnie being unlucky at love and lucky at cards. I want to ride her ripped up aortic coattails.Then, I watch a movie that I have seen a thousand times before "When Blackjack Goes Bad." I'm losing money quicker than an internet start up company. Minnie's new man must have slipped her a mickey and mended the heart that Matt broke.CUT. CUT. CUT. That's not the problem.Minnie can't count to 21. She's taking the dealer's bust card, and causing the casino to take my rent money. Minnie has taken the trucker on a drive to financial ruin. It's obvious he doesn't know, and could care less, that Ms. Movie Star is costing him more money than a ticket to the local Mega Cineplex.As my wallet grows increasingly thin and my nerves even thinner, I say, "Minnie, that dumb ass move you made just cost me $20." The trucker's gears are grinding. He just lost two hands at $150 a piece all because Minnie can't count. He walks over to her and says, loudly, "Never hit when the dealer shows a six, five, four or three."Minnie quits playing cards, but she stays at the table. The tables begin to turn. Tens are paired and paired again, and we begin to recoup the money lost by Minnie. Her friend pulls out the Winston Lights. We share a smoke. Make a joke. They're in love. He reaches for a leg of hope.Money is being made so Minnie rejoins the game. Maybe she was paying attention to the nuances of blackjack, or maybe she just took her shoes off, but now, somehow, Minnie can count to 21. She was playing smart. We cleaned up, like a good janitor should. But soon the table turned cold.About this time, the pit boss noticed that that girl at my table was the girl from that one movie. The pit boss didn't know her name, but he knew how to schmooze. He gave her, and me, and the trucker, and her current beau a free buffet dinner.As I was walking to the restaurant, Minnie said she had lost $200 at the blackjack table. I made $225. So, I let her know, in a way, I had won her money, but that she still owed me the $20 from her dumb ass move.Her boyfriend patted me on the shoulder, not once, not twice, but three times, seemingly to say, "You may have her money, but I have her."How do you like them apples?